Teen wildcard causes Hong Kong upset

IT WAS a dream start to 2024 for Chinese teenager Juncheng Shang, who upset seventh seed Laslo Djere in the opening round of Hong Kong Tennis Open yesterday. Shang, ranked 183rd in the world was able to mastermind the victory over the world number 33, some 10 years his senior, 6-7 6-3 7-6. That included saving two match points on his way to the Round of 16.

The two-hour and 51-minute epic feature two tiebreakers and Shang having to weather 11 aces and some powerful points from the Serbian to secure the win. It took until the 18th point of the third set deciding tiebreaker to split the difference, with the wildcard coming away with the points and moving into the Round of 16.

Shang won a superior 52 of 64 points off his first serve (81 per cent), as well as 59 per cent off his second, delivering two thirds of his first serves in play. Though not as powerful as his opponent – four aces to Djere’s 11, her was rock solid and broke four times to the Serbian’s two in what was a tough battle throughout the contest.

Shang, who had only won four singles matches on the ATP Tour coming into the tournament, will now look to face off against another quality opponent in Dutchman, Botic Van de Zandschulp. The Netherlands’ second ranked singles player at 50 in the world, knocked off Japan’s Shintaro Mochizuki. The 20-year-old 137th ranked player also earned a wildcard into the Hong Kong event.

The matches were two of only four on court for day one of the tournament, as Finn Emil Ruusuvuori won another, coming back from losing a first set tiebreaker to Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi to win comfortably, 6-7 6-2 6-1 and move through to take on second seed Karen Khachanov in the Round of 16. Russian Pavel Kotov also claimed a victory, defeating Portugal’s Nuno Borges in straight sets, 6-2 6-4.

Action in Hong Kong recommences from 5pm AEDST, with Austrian Sebastian Ofner and American Mackenzie McDonald kicking off proceedings, followed by a huge serving display between fifth seed Jan-Lennard Struff and Croatian veteran, Marin Cilic on Centre Court.


Australian Max Purcell fell short of an almighty upset in the ATP 250 event in Brisbane against top seed Holger Rune. After stunning the Dane in the first set 6-4, Purcell was unable to sustain the level against the world number eight, with Rune coming away with the 3-6 6-4 6-2 victory in an hour and 40 minutes.

In the other two matches on Pat Rafter Arena, Bulgarian second seed Grigor Dimitrov also came back from a first set deficit to knock off Andy Murray in a blockbuster first round match, winning 4-6 7-5 6-2 to advance to the Round of 16. Roman Safiullin caused an upset in the third match that took place, defeating American young gun Ben Shelton in three sets, 6-3 6-7 6-3 in two hours and 37 minutes.

Today’s action sees a blockbuster night fixture between two Grand Slam champions returning to Tour. 22-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal has a wildcard and takes on Austrian qualifier Dominic Thiem under lights from 7:30pm. The All-Australian battle between Thanasi Kokkinakis and wildcard Rinky Hijikata on Show Court 1 this afternoon is another match not to be missed.

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